Archive | December 2013

My 2013 in 12 images

Like last year I have decided to summarise my year in 12 images, I have been completing a photo a day challenge as well and will post this separately.

1. Henry arrives

Day 6: first family shot

2. Getting big cuddles

Day 46: Daddy gets a big hug

3. Family portrait

Day 82: Family portrait time

4. Henry loves his highchair

Day 158: Superhero boy enjoys the highchair

5. Teaching Chemistry is always fun…

Day 159: Ammonium dichromate volcano

6. but Physics is better

Day 162: Radioactive Sam

7. First trip to the sea

Day 232: Henry's first trip to the sea!

8. First display in my own classroom – NQT begins

Day 238: my first classroom display...

9. Our own home.. yes we bought a place 🙂

Day 269: Entering our own home!

10. Talking about radio astronomy at the University of Cambridge

Day 290: Me speaking at the FAS Convention

11. Off for a hike…

Day 336: outdoors pushing is popular

12. Christmas time with family

Day 355: Family Christmas meal at the Hungry Horse

Physics of Christmas lesson

Well its almost Christmas and I decided that this would be a great chance to do a bit of extra engagement with a few of my classes. We have also just completed a whole term of (KS3) physics. This means we have encountered, forces, light, electricity and energy. So why not do a lesson of application that is not just an exam. So here is my plan (going to try it tomorrow) – well a rough write up of a plan with associated resources:

Physics of Christmas

Calculate the speed of Father Christmas
Explain assumptions made in calculations
Evaluate situations and suggest solutions

Starter: Ask students to produce a list of what they think could be physics to do with Christmas.

Main: Circus activity where groups of students spend 5 minutes at each station to complete a challenge using their physics understanding from the previous term.

Plenary: Students complete an extended piece of writing about the physics of Christmas.

I have created both a worksheet for students and info sheets / challenge for each station (see links).

Let me know if you try any of this, I’m going to give this a go and post my review of my lessons.

National Astronomy Week Lesson Plans

Just over a month ago I was asked if I’d like to be involved in National Astronomy week (2014) by putting together some lesson plans. As this coincided nicely with a visit from OFSTED I managed to put a few ideas together for their website. I’ve included them below, they are still rather drafty and will need bulking out for any class but the overall ideas and structure are there (bit like the Edexcel SoW).  I’ve trialed a couple of these activities and have made resources that I’ll upload when I get a moment…. but now back to the EM waves lesson I’m planning for tomorrow.


Title: How did Galileo observe Jupiter?

Big Picture: How do we know the Sun is at the centre of the Solar System?

Lesson Overview: Students complete a practical investigation to build a simple refracting telescope like that of Galileo.

Learning outcomes:

Describe how observations provide evidence

Explain how light travels through concave and convex lenses

Design and build a telescope

Outline of activities:

Task 1: Explore Galileo’s observations

Task 2: Use concave and convex lenses with ray boxes to draw how light rays pass through lenses

Task 3: Measure the focal length of the lenses from a diagram

Task 4: Use your measurements to design a telescope that focuses light to a point.

Plenary: Write a tweet @NAW? to describe how a telescope is built


Title: Exploring Jupiter

Big Picture: How do spacecraft alter our view of the Universe?

Lesson Overview: Students will explore what we know about Jupiter. They will design mission to Jupiter and deliver a presentation to their peers.

Learning Outcomes:

List the main features of Jupiter

Design a scientific experiment

Evaluate scientific options and present a reasoned conclusion

Outline of activities:

Task 1: Picture of Jupiter and Moons in hall, students have to replicate the picture and answer levelled questions. The ones who get the most point get a prize.

Task 2: Comprehension on Jupiter task. In pairs the students read out a passage back to back on Jupiter – they then have 3 minutes to make notes that will be used in the next task.

Task 3: You are part of an international team (group of 3/4) who are putting together a bid to put a spacecraft around Jupiter. (Each group is a different nation and are given a primary task e.g. exploring Io, weather formation on Jupiter, the effects of impacts on Jupiter’s atmosphere). They have an information pack and have to put together a visual aid and a presentation on their mission. Each group is given 1 minute to present. Each presentation is given a rating out of 10 by their peers on both presentation and scientific content. All groups have to write a WWW and EBI for the other groups. The team of 4 have to give a percentage of effort for each student – if you use vivos offer 50 then this will force a non-even split. At the end all groups vote on best design.

Plenary: Students write a tweet that they would send from their spacecraft


Title: How important is Jupiter?

Lesson Overview: Students will gather information on Jupiter and will create a poster

Outline of activities:

Task 1: Gather information from around the room on Jupiter – create a mind map

Task 2: Create a poster on how Jupiter is important to life on the Earth (SL9 is the key here)

Task 3: Condense ideas into 140 character tweet @NAW?